Canadian freedom and security is glorious, just like our national anthem says.
On Canada Day, values that Canadian-born people may take for granted are best treasured through the eyes of those celebrating their first Canada Day.
In April 2017 two Syrian refugees landed at the Edmonton International airport and were welcomed to Canada with hugs and Tim Hortons. They are now happy residents of St Albert, Alberta.
Four years ago they were forced to leave everything familiar and flee the bombings in their city of Damascus. They made their way to Jordan where they were interned in a refugee camp. The couple were eventually taken in by a group of Jordanians living north of Amman.
For three years they repeatedly applied for refugee status in Canada. Only when a Christian organization in Canada guaranteed their sponsorship was their application considered. North Pointe Community Church waited for fourteen months to meet the couple they had fallen in love with from a distance.
Since April, their time has been invested in learning English, enjoying BBQ’s, meeting new friends and getting ready for Canada’s most famous season by stocking up on winter supplies at a Canadian staple - garage sales. And during the playoff run they learned to cheer for the Oilers. Not everything has been easy. There is the emotional stress of leaving behind family who are still in danger, fitting in socially, getting jobs and establishing a new life. They love their new home country.
Not only does Canada have so much to offer them, they have so much to offer Canada. Volunteering in a UN Humanitarian Aid organization in Jordan provided one of our new friends with useful administrative skills. Our second friend is a skilled goldsmith, just waiting to use his talent in a Canadian context.
People from North Pointe have been shuttling them to appointments and the afore-mentioned garage sales. Strangers have been so kind. When one owner heard about their flight from the civil war in Syria she packed up a bag of mitts, a scarf, very expensive warm knee highs, a hat and a few other items. Our Syrian friend was thrilled and her face absolutely beamed with appreciation.
Sitting on a deck and enjoying a cup of tea at sunset one evening the couple remarked how safe they felt. Safe. Secure. Canada, eh? Thank God for Canada.
Canada is a one of a kind nation. One hundred and fifty years ago the dominion of Canada came into being – named from the text of a Psalm. “He shall have dominion from sea to sea.” A mosaic of nationalities. Unconquered by foreign invaders. A nation bonded in battle at Vimy Ridge and burgeoning with opportunity and possibilities.
When you engage with people new to Canada let their appreciation for all we may take for granted give you a fresh perspective and gratitude.
This summer be Canadian - drink a Horton’s double double. Bar-B-Q. Be grateful.
And sing with hope and humility, “God keep our land glorious and free.”
Bob is a recovering perfectionist, who collects Coca-Cola memorabilia and drinks Iced Tea. His office walls are adorned with his sons’ framed football jerseys, and his library shelves, with soul food. He writes to inspire people to be real, grow an authentic faith in Jesus, enjoy healthy relationships and discover their life purpose.
Follow his writing at Pointes Of View.